Chart of the day

Some good stuff from Pew in their, “16 striking findings from 2016,” but given my interests in partisanship, this was my favorite:

Absent some major external shock that is just a hell of a change.  Then again, I guess we could say Trump is a major external shock.  Oh, and just for the record, there’s an empirically verifiable correct answer– good thing.

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A pro-worker agenda for Democrats

I really liked this column from Josh Barro on a “A pro-work, pro-worker, pro-wage agenda for Democrats.”  This first idea sounds particularly good to me.  I imagine upon closer look it may not be the most optimal of policies, but politically-speaking, it has the benefit of being super-straightforward and an idea that would certainly favor Democrats politically:

1. Exempt the first $11,500 of every American’s wage and salary income from the employee part of payroll tax. The principle here is simple: Workers should not have to pay any federal tax on the wages they need to earn simply to stay above the poverty line.

Federal income tax is already designed in accordance with this goal, but payroll tax begins at the first dollar of income and is a significant burden on the working poor. This universal tax exclusion would raise the typical two-parent family’s after-tax income by $1,750, which would mean a material increase in standard of living for the working poor and a noticeable increase for the middle class.

This near-universal tax cut would admittedly be expensive. It could be financed by expanding the payroll tax base to cover high incomes, including by abolishing the cap that currently limits Social Security taxes to the first $127,200 of income. This would be a large tax increase on the rich, but given the way economic changes over the last four decades have favored the wealthiest Americans, it makes sense to change Social Security’s financing structure so the tax exclusion goes to the bottom of the income scale instead of the top.

Tax increases on the rich are popular in the abstract, but do not necessarily help Democrats who propose them because voters fear the new tax revenue will be wasted or spent on somebody else. Applying the tax proceeds directly to a broad tax cut for nearly all working Americans would answer the “What’s in it for me?” question and make the government more progressive without making it any larger or more complicated.

7 more ideas, too, worth checking out.

 

Hillary’s emails and the blame on liberals

Much like Drum actually made his name as a blogger way back when during the controversy over George W. Bush’s National Guard service by being exacting with the facts of the situation while others wrote about what they thought they knew, he’s likewise played a similar role and been great on the actual reality of Hillary’s emails.

I really like this post that takes a pretty thorough look at the timeline and the key contexts and comes down placing a fair amount of blame on liberals.  And, I think he’s right.  Now, to be clear, this is very much the work of Republicans in Congress (and Comey) making a mountain out of a molehill and the media way too credulously going along, “scandal!”

Image result for dug squirrel

(Sorry, I watched “Up” with my sick daughter yesterday)

First, Drum’s nickel summary of what was going on:

So here’s what we’ve got. Clinton used a private server for her unclassified emails. However, that doesn’t provide any reason to think she was any more careless about discussing classified information than any other secretary of state. Nevertheless, Republicans used the excuse of the Benghazi investigation to demand an inspector general’s audit of her emails. The intelligence community, naturally, concluded that Clinton’s archives contained thousands of discussions of classified programs. They would most likely conclude the same thing if they audited the email
account of any ranking State Department official. It’s just a fact of life that State and CIA disagree about this stuff.

Comey certainly knew this, and he also knew that Clinton had done nothing out of the ordinary. However, in an attempt to appease congressional Republicans, who were sure to go ballistic when their hopes of putting Clinton in the dock failed yet again, he held a press conference where he called her actions “extremely careless.” Then, three months later, with absolutely no justification, he announced that more emails had been discovered—and he announced it in the most damaging possible way.

This is the meat of the whole affair.

But part of the reason the media way-too-credulously went along is because liberals allowed them to:

The bottom line is simple: There was never any real reason for either the IG investigations or the FBI investigation. And in the end, the FBI found nothing out of the ordinary—just the usual State-CIA squabbling. Nevertheless, under pressure from Republicans, Comey spent a full year on the investigation; reported its conclusions in the most damaging possible way; and then did it again two weeks before the election. Because of this, Clinton lost about 2 percent of the vote, and the presidency.

Liberals should have defended her with gusto from the start. There was never anything here and no evidence that Clinton did anything seriously wrong. And yet we didn’t. Many liberals just steered clear of the whole thing. Others—including me sometimes—felt like every defense had to contain a series of caveats acknowledging that, yes, the private server was a bad idea, harumph harumph. And some others didn’t even go that far. The result was that in the public eye, both liberals and conservatives were more or less agreeing that there was a lot of smoke here. So smoke there was. And now Donald Trump is a month away from being president. [emphasis mine]

Yes, yes, yes!  The media looks to elites from both parties to shape it’s coverage (the indexing theory), and with Democrats offering little pushback, reporters were really able to run with this whole “cloud” of scandal and the idea that Hillary must have done something seriously wrong.  I’m not sure who on the right would have made for a good analogy, but I suspect Republicans would have circled the wagons in an effective manner if it were their likely standard-bearer who were being attacked in such a way.

Ugh.

Seriously??!!  Is their any more pathetic group, any greater embarrassment to their state, than NC legislative Republicans.  I did think the HB2 repeal would happen, but I also was not counting my chickens before they hatched.  They didn’t hatch.  From WRAL:

— A much ballyhooed plan to repeal a controversial state law that limits LGBT rights went down in flames Wednesday night after hours of negotiations between Republican legislative leaders and conservative members of their caucus and a last-ditch parliamentary maneuver to squeeze a bill through the Senate.

My favorite part is that the Republicans, with super-majorities in both houses, blame the Democrats:

“Make no mistake: Roy Cooper and Senate Democrats killed the repeal of HB2, abandoning Roy Cooper’s commitment to avoid divisive social issues by shooting down a temporary cooling off period on ordinances like the one that got us into this mess last March,” Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. “Their action proves they only wanted a repeal in order to force radical social engineering and shared bathrooms across North Carolina at the expense of our state’s families, our reputation and our economy.”

Oh, good God.  Do they even believe themselves when they spout off like this?!  Sad.  Plenty more details in the story, but the basic reality is that Charlotte complete rescinded their local ordinance and the Republican legislature refused to repeal HB2, which they have long said they would if Charlotte got rid of it’s law.  [This the part where where I write what I really think full of bad language and then just insert this instead]

Just unreal.  And all the Republicans in the state will happily just vote for the R next to their state legislators name next election.  And all of us live with the consequences.  Ugh, indeed.

Happy Winter Solstice

Loved this Vox article with some cool facts about it.  One of the things I find most intriguing is that the sunset has already been getting later for a while now (though, the days, of course have still been getting shorter).  The further south you go, the greater the lag between earliest sunset and latest sunrise.

Works for me, I’ve been getting later sunsets for about 2 weeks.  The later the sunset, the later I can get home from work and still walk my dog without a flashlight.  And during winter I pretty much always sleep through the sunrise no matter how late it is.

The real electoral college bias

Love this analysis from Nate Cohn looking at the various ways the electoral college is or is not biased and how that helped Trump.  His conclusion: not regionalism, not small-state bias, but a battleground state bias:

O.K., so it’s not California and it’s not small-state bias. What is it?

It’s the Electoral College’s most straightforward bias: The battleground states count the most.

Mrs. Clinton did well in noncompetitive states and “wasted” popular votes that didn’t earn her any more electoral votes, while Mr. Trump did just well enough in competitive states to pick up their electoral votes…

Mr. Trump did very well in the battleground states. Depending on how the battlegrounds are defined, the vote there either broke for Mr. Trump or was virtually tied — a huge improvement over Mitt Romney’s showing in 2012.

Mr. Trump won a lopsided electoral vote tally from those states by narrowly winning four of the five states decided by around one point or less: Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania (Mrs. Clinton edged him out in New Hampshire). Outside of those five states, the electoral vote was basically tied, with Mr. Trump edging out Mrs. Clinton, 231 to 228 (and leading by the margin of small-state bias)…

The regional anomaly was the Midwest, and it just so happens that in a winner-take-all system Mr. Trump’s strength in the Midwestern battleground states yielded a lot of Electoral College votes.

There’s a real demographic reason for it: Most of the traditional battleground states are much whiter, less educated and particularly less Hispanic than the rest of the country.

But the demographics alone don’t quite do justice to Mr. Trump’s victory in the Electoral College. In the end, he won the battleground states by just a one-point margin — but claimed three-fourths of their Electoral College votes.

He won four of the five closest states, winning 75 of 79 votes at stake.

There has never been a close election in the United States in which one candidate has claimed such a resounding electoral vote margin out of the closest states.

For lack of a better word: Mr. Trump had some very good luck.  [emphasis mine]

Damn.  On such things do the fate of the country rest.  Unlucky us.

The End of HB2(?)

Well, Charlotte repealed it’s ordinance that set the whole thing off and the legislature is supposedly going to repeal on Wednesday.  You’ll understand if I say I’ll believe it when I see it, though I do think this will finally happen.

So, with Charlotte repealing it’s ordinance, the legislature ostensibly no longer needs HB2 to protect women and children in bathrooms.  At this point, there was no way the narrow-minded egomaniacs in Raleigh were ever going to back down, so good for Charlotte’s Democratic local government for doing the right thing so that the state can end it’s pariah status.  Sure, this may be backing down on transgender rights, to a degree, but the Charlotte ordinance was unenforceable under HB2.  Here’s my analogy.  The bully has his knee on your back, there’s no adults around, and he demands “say I’m the greatest.”  Well, damnit, you just say “you’re the greatest” and get on with your life.  Nobody really thinks you think the bully is great.  And nobody thinks Charlotte doesn’t want to protect LGBT people.

The simple fact is the legislature pretty much has all the power here.  The only countervailing power was that of sports and entertainment boycotts and companies not moving jobs here.  And that didn’t work.  The bully doesn’t care that everybody hates him and thinks he’s a jerk.  He just wants you to say, “you’re the greatest.”  So you do it.  That’s what Charlotte did here.

It’s important to note that while the focus was on bathrooms, a far more insidious effect of the law was basically to implicitly legalize discrimination against gay people.  That goes away now.

Gotta love the Republican comments on this, though:

“Today Roy Cooper and Jennifer Roberts proved what we said was the case all along: their efforts to force men into women’s bathrooms and shower facilities was a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor’s race,” the Republican leaders said. “For months, we’ve said if Charlotte would repeal its bathroom ordinance that created the problem, we would take up the repeal of HB2.”

Seriously?  Pathetic till the end.  But again, there was no way these guys were going to do anything about this law as long as the Charlotte ordinance was on the books.  Heck, in their tiny little minds, they may actually believe that this is about “forcing men into women’s bathrooms and showers.”

So, my take…  Damn good to have this behind us.  The long-term damage to North Carolina’s reputation is going to persist and take quite a while to undo.  At least over that period, I’ll be enjoying opportunities for the best that sports and entertainment has to offer and many hard-working North Carolinians will no longer have to take a direct economic hit.   Of course, the bullies in the legislature may just be looking for another opportunity to get their knee in our collective back.

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